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 Copyright © 1999,
Dorian Scott Cole


 A story idea for other's use




Dorian Scott Cole

Copyright © 1994 by Dorian Scott Cole

Primary Contact.

Notice: This story outline is copyrighted and is not public domain. Anyone can use any portion of this story outline, or all of this story outline, simply by putting "Idea created by Dorian Scott Cole" with the author's credits on the first page. Changes to the story or outline are welcome and encouraged. If this outline prompts you to create a different story, that is even better, then no credit is required (even if it is similar).

Story Media: This story outline is intended to work for screenplays, novels, and stage plays. It is not likely to work well for a short story. If written for stage, there are only four stage settings with few scene changes, and the settings and changes are indicated. I recommend using a bare stage area for the desert scenes with a scrim in the background covering paintings of military tanks, etc. Some of the outdoor action may have to be described by others either as it occurs, or afterwards in tense scenes about what has occurred. While scenes for modern screen typically average two minutes (about two pages in screenplay format), scenes for plays are typically ten minutes and much longer for a one and a half to two-hour play.

Example downloads:
Stage play: Amphoteros
Screenplay: Riverboat Justice
General: How To Write A Movie
Respect for others: Humor and disrespect (laughing at ourselves and making fun of others) are two different things. While individual actions may be amusing, the actions of individuals usually don't reflect on nations of people or agencies. Please respect our national Native American heritage which is part of us all, and our US government agencies, and others, by not making disparaging remarks about groups of people or government agencies, or any individual's limitations or heritage. (No one will use stories with hurtful remarks anyway.)


Thrown off a ship for their antics, two immature, funloving pranksters consider settling down... Nah, no fun. They decide on an ambitious plan to make it rain in California and end up saving a town from drought.


Trip and Trap (or Tripp and Trapp) like to have fun. If fun isn't happening, they instigate fun. But they also find they have a desire to do something meaningful and good for other people. What better place than drought ridden California? At first bragging to impress some ladies, they hit upon an idea to bring water to a town collapsing from lack of water. But the government and the environmentalists are both their friends and their enemy in their quest, at one moment for them, the next opposing them. The town can't quite take them seriously and has a little fun at their expense. They can't quite take themselves seriously and have a little fun at the town's expense. When they finally overcome all obstacles and prove to the town that they are determined and have a workable plan, a government official with a grudge blocks their way. Discouraged, they leave town, but the town rallies to their side because they tried so hard for them. They approach the military base which formerly opposed them and get their cooperation on the project.


Part I, opening to show main motivation and main plot

On ship, Trip and Trap are recreation stewards who are tired of feeding the Captain's gold fish and organizing dull shuffleboard games and watching dead romances. They manage to anger all the passengers and the crew by dropping gold fish in ladies' bikinis, dumping Jell-O in the swimming pool, putting horseshoe magnets in the shuffle board pucks, putting alum in the cafeteria drinking water, and inflating a life boat in the steam bath.
(Stage play - scene on ship's loading ramp with hostile passengers recounting antics)

The Captain throws them off, while all the passengers glare at them. When they learn they are in L.A., they run back up the ramp terrified, screaming, "You can't leave us here! California is plagued by earthquakes, mud slides, highway shootings, forest fires, drought, and the Redwood forest." "Redwood forest?" the passengers ask. "What's wrong with Redwood forest?" "That's where our crazy Aunt lives."

Then, while riding east on the back of a farm truck with a hog, a dog, and two chickens, thinking about settling down and making their mother proud of them, they decide the best thing they can do is to make it rain. It will stop the forest fires, drought and highway shootings, and maybe the earthquakes. The mud slides may get worse.
(Stage play scene - commiserating while sitting on wooden boxes at the port.)

They arrive in the (fictitious) town of Twin Dry Lakes, CA, population 10,000, where people are having to leave because of the lack of water. Desperate for hope, the people are willing to try or believe anything in order to keep their homes. Trip and Trap meet two local women. Trip likes Amy, the Mayor's daughter, Trap likes Lisa, the daughter of an undertaker and city council member. (One of the two twins could also be female.)
(Stage play scene - passengers Amy and Lisa are watching from the ship, feel sorry for them, leave the ship, and offer to take them to Twin Dry Lakes where they can start a new life.)

Trip and Trap boast that they are alchemists on summer break from the UCLA Alchemy Science Department, and are there studying rain making. They claim that as twins, they not only have unusual rapport with each other, they have unusual rapport with the earth. They are about to complete their investigation and report to the weather bureau about conditions for making rain.

Amy and Lisa know the two are bogus, but decide they are fun and will play along with them for a while.

They see a crowd gathered around City Hall and a man about to hang himself from the balcony. When he jumps, Trip and Trap catch him and break his fall, nearly killing both Trip and Trap and him. His feet can touch the ground - it is a symbolic hanging, not a real one. He is losing his landscaping business because of the drought, and the city government is voting in closed session at this moment on unincorporating the town so they won't have to provide water. Trip and Trap take pity on the entire city, confess to the ladies that they aren't alchemists and that their charade is totally inappropriate. They decide they must do something for real to try to find a way to fill the lake.
(Stage play setting 2, scene - City Hall on the stage displays the Mayor's Office, auditorium, and front/outside on the street.)

The Mayor hears all the ruckus outside and he and his panel of expert consultants come out to calm the crowd. One consultant tells them the cost of running a small pipeline from the closest source of water is about fifty-million dollars. The bonds to cover it would cost each city family twenty-thousand dollars a year in new taxes, which no one can afford. However, the other cities are so short on water that no one will let them do it anyway. A Geologist reports that the ground water level is so far down that it's unreachable. The Mayor says the city won't be able to supply water and the only solution is to unincorporate the town and let the residents move elsewhere. They will file for disaster relief, but probably not get it.

Trip and Trap tell the Mayor that he can't unincorporate. He can't give up on the entire town and let the people lose their homes and businesses. They talk to the crowd, telling them that they can solve the water problem if they rely on themselves for the answers. The meeting becomes flooded with crazy ideas forgetting water, angering the Mayor. The meeting is over.

Part II, middle (longest section) with three/four obstacles or movements, ending in discouragement and then hope

Obstacle/movement 1, the challenge

Next day, the Mayor consults a used car salesman and asks if he can get rid of Trip and Trap before they cause trouble for the town or his daughter. He says, "I'm a used car salesman, I can sell them on anything." He and another salesman get Trip and Trap to agree to drill in the lake for water, then give them shovels, a ten inch auger, twenty, ten foot sections of pipe, and set them to digging. They can't afford power tools, but according to "experts," there is a "geological formation" under the lake, a spring, that can provide water. The hole they dig will fill up with water after they drill down far enough. The businessmen leave, laughing with each other about not having given the two a ladder to get out of the hole.
(Stage play scene - Trip and trap arrive and this all takes place in City Hall.)

Lisa gets her father to loan Trip and Trap the hearse when they need transportation, so they have a way to the desert. After a week, they have dug a hole twenty feet wide by ten feet deep, and in the bottom of it they have drilled a ten inch hole 200 feet down with the small auger. The town is buzzing about their activity, and the businessmen and Mayor are surprised that the two have stuck with it so long, having figured them to be lazy drifters.
(Stage play setting 3, scene - in the desert, which can be just a section at the front of the stage, possibly in front of a curtain, painted backdrop, or scrim.)

An old Indian has been observing their progress, each day moving his lawn chair a little closer and shaking his head, watching them go round and round turning the auger. Having run out of pipe, Trip and Trap start toward the hearse to return to town. Pointing to the hearse, the Indian asks what they are going to bury in the hole. They tell him a two hundred foot rattle snake tried to swallow two water buffalo and choked to death. The Indian laughs and invites them into his shanty where the two spot a peace pipe hanging on the wall. They ask to smoke it. The Indian has no tobacco, so he turns his back, opens a tea bag and fills the pipe. Trap chokes on the smoke, sending a volcano of burning embers onto them and all over the shanty, catching the shanty on fire. They rush outside, furiously brushing the glowing embers off themselves. The Indian grabs a bucket of water from outside and puts the fire out. But as they watch, it bursts again into flames and the Indian grabs his possessions from inside.
(Stage play - this is still in the desert - the shanty may just be painted on.)

As they stand together watching it burn, they want to know where he gets the water. It's an Indian secret; Indians always know how to find water in the desert. Then he angrily orders them to leave. Instead of leaving, Trip and Trap hide and watch to see where he gets his water. Hours later he goes to a hole and pulls out a bucket of water.
(Stage play - same basic spot in the desert - just outside the shanty.)

Excited about having found water at the Indian's place, they go back to town and tell the businessmen they have found the spring. The men are astonished and rush to see the water. They immediately begin digging and discover a leak in the city water pipe. They have it fixed and the Indian is out of water, and a home. Trip and Trap feel sorry for him and invite him to live with them. Having no alternative, he reluctantly moves in.
(Stage play - they leave for a moment, lights transition, then they return with several people.)

Obstacle/movement 2 - beaten, humiliated, and jailed

Trip and Trap decide that Indians are mystical people - they do rain dances - and coupled with the their natural mystical powers, they should be able to solve the water problem. They decide to have a mystical engineering meeting, and ask the Indian what he thinks. He wants nothing to do with the two and he sarcastically says, "Ask the moon." They take him seriously. They wait until the moon is visible and try to go into a trance. Trip thinks of the ocean. Trap puts moon and ocean together and thinks of waves. Moon, ocean, waves, sun, they're onto an idea. They devise a plan to use wave power, the sun, and cold ocean water to convert ocean water to clean water and pump it to the city. They tell their idea to some local residents and some local environmentalists, and get their support.
(Stage play scene - still in the desert.)

No one in the city government will believe them or cooperate, so the two tell their story to the press and it is put on the air on an L.A. newscast as a human interest story. The Mayor is interviewed, calling them, "Crackpots at minimum, mad scientists at best, and mostly meddling mischief makers." He is embarrassed to confirm his daughter is seeing one of them. They also interview the Captain of the ship they were thrown off, and interview a scientist who says, "Their method is hardly worth investigating. Their quest is a lost cause that the best modern scientists have yet to conquer." But the citizens interviewed are unquestionably behind the Trip and Trap, including some environmentalists who make bold statements about their water purifying method being pure and natural.
(Stage play scene - all this happens at City Hall. Broadcast TV news reports are reporters spotlighted at side stage)

Every special interest group in California is alerted and responds.

A nearby military base orders them to stop because of "national defense priorities" (the lakes have always been dry and water would cut off their access to the town, which is the only sane place around for military personnel to go or to live. The two react to the military threat by setting up "Sacred Indian Burial Ground" signs on the road across the lake bed. The Indian refuses to get involved until they bribe him by promising to erect a Tee Pee for him to live in. Military jeeps appear, stop and return to base. Next day, an Indian Affairs man talks to the Indian and takes down the sign.
(Stage play scene - desert scene.)

Trip and Trap then place radioactive danger signs in the lake to keep the military from crossing. They borrow a backhoe and dig up the lake bed to make it look like dumping is taking place. The military shows up in radioactive suits and checks with Geiger counters, then rolls in tanks and uses the signs for target practice. They chase Trip and Trap down with the tanks, terrorizing them. They cuff them, throw them behind bars and try to coerce them into enlisting. After twenty-four hours, they release them, after gaining an agreement that the two will not impede the lake crossing.
(Stage play scene - all this happens in the desert - no 24 hours.)

Obstacle 3, Family, community, the military, and everyone in the world is against them.

Some environmentalists have discovered a den of endangered fangless coyotes, the only ones known, are living in the lake bed and file injunctions against them.

Two town thieves see all the commotion around the lake and believe something must be going on. They surmise there must be valuable minerals in the lake bed and become prospectors. They kidnap Trip and Trap, question them about their real purpose, and leave them to dry in the desert. While the prospectors dump Trip, Trap places a magnet behind the compass on the prospector's car, so they go off with Trap in the wrong direction.
(Stage play scene - in the desert.)

Trip makes it back to town. He tells the local sheriff what happened, but he won't go looking for Trap because Trip made it back and technically Trap isn't a missing person until he has been missing forty-eight hours. Trip calls the FBI, but they won't do anything because Trap wasn't kidnapped over state lines.
(Stage play scene - Trip calls from a public telephone in City Hall.)

So Trip calls the State Police and asks if they have seen his brother. They reply, "No, is there some reason we would have seen him?" Trip, "Yes, he's been driving without a license." Police, "Hmmm. Is there any other reason we might have picked him up?" Trip, "Of course, the package of cocaine he was carrying. But it was only three pounds. He's also carrying a gun without a license, and he has quite a lot of stolen money on him, and those two-hundred dollar boots he is wearing he stole from a boot store, and the military is looking for him." "Why is the military looking for him?" "He's AWOL from the Navy." "Why is he AWOL?" "He sank one of their ships. It was only a supply ship, but they got real upset about it." "Don't worry, Sir, we'll find your brother. Oh, is there any reason we might be looking for you?" "No. I've never done anything wrong in my entire life."

While walking across the desert after being dumped by the thieves, Trap stumbles on a group of archaeologists who are checking for archaeological ruins to prevent them from filling the lake. He spends the day helping them dig, and finds they don't really have anything special they are looking for, they just think that in the next hundred years they might find some civilization or some missing link had lived in the lake bed and they don't want it covered with water so they can't investigate. After all, Sumeria is under water and mud, so they can't investigate it, and they can't investigate Atlantis because the columns off the coast of Florida are under water. Trap wanders into town and Trip tells him the State Police are looking for him. "What for?" "Nothing much, just a little misunderstanding."
(Stage play scene - the desert, then outside City Hall.)

The EPA brings in three mobile laboratories full of scientists. They have a press conference/town meeting and announce they are beginning an environmental impact study that will take ten years. Asked about the cost, the EPA rep. states the cost at five-hundred-million dollars. He is informed by the crowd that the cost is ten times the estimated cost of running a pipeline from the coast. Why doesn't the government just run a pipeline. They respond that the government wasn't threatened by a pipeline, it was threatened by a lake.
(Stage play scene - outside City Hall.)

While at the EPA announcement meeting, the State Police arrive and approach Trap. When asked if he is Trap, he points to Trip. Just then an odd looking woman with a patch over one eye thrashes into the meeting creating a big commotion. She announces loudly that there are Sasquatch footprints in the lake and nobody had better do anything to the lake or they will have to face her. Trip and Trap both run. She sees Trap and follows him, with the police on her heels.

Their lady friends catch Trip and Trap at the door and want to know what is up. "That's our crazy Aunt from the Redwood forest. And that's the State Police on her heels." "What kind of trouble are you two in?" "It's all just a misunderstanding with the Police, but if our Aunt catches us, we're in big trouble." "Why?" "Because she doesn't know we are twins, and that's how we avoid seeing her when she visits. Ever since she bounced out of her jeep, and landed on her head, she's been crazy, and she follows Sasquatch footprints all over California. If she finds out we are twins, she'll kill us. And worse, she'll make us drive the jeep with her, tracking Sasquatch."
(Stage play scene - this is taking place inside and outside of City Hall.)

Having Trapped Trip and Trap, the Aunt yells, "Trap," and goes and hits Trap. The Police move in. Trip has disappeared behind a policeman. As the police cuff Trap, she hits him, saying, "You outlaw! What have you done now besides trying to ruin my Sasquatch footprints? Take the bum away." Trap asks, "You're always mean to me. Why did you always hate me?" She replies, "Because you selfish little pig, you always want two of everything. Every Christmas it's, 'Send two of everything, just alike." Trip is strangling with laughter behind the policeman.

Trip gets Trap out of jail, but they are demoralized because of all the problems. Their lady friends encourage them and help them find ways around the problems. Amy and Lisa organize realtors who will want to sell lake front property. The Realtors buy the mineral rights to the lake for $50.00 and chase off the prospector/thieves.
(Stage play scene - outside and inside City Hall.)

A high school science teacher is impressed with Trip and Trap's idea and their determination. Trip and Trap get the local high school science club to prepare a new habitat for the fangless coyotes with the understanding that the habitat will be part of a nature course that will protect them.
(Stage play scene - continues from previous scene at City Hall.)

They all four convince the old Indian to go on local TV by telling him the future of the town depends on him. On TV, he traces his ancestry all the way back to the beginning of time. He tells ancient tales of when the lake was full, with a tear running down his cheek, saying it is in their best interests to restore the bounty of the land. Community support solidifies against those trying to stop the filling of the lake.
(Stage play scene - City Hall.)

After the show, Trap introduces his Aunt to the archaeologists who were looking for Indian ruins. They go off together looking for "Sasquatch Indian ruins."

Next morning, a woman shows up saying, "They have been looking everywhere for her father, the old Indian. They live in L.A. where they have a costume shop, and he's been getting senile and imagining things. He was born in L.A. and has lived there all of his life, but he remembers TV westerns as his past. All he can talk about is dying like an Indian." He breaks the peace pipe and angrily throws it at Trip and Trap's feet, saying, "All I wanted was to die in peace, then I have to run into double trouble. I haven't had a peaceful minute since they arrived. Let's go home."

The four of them locate investors who will want to build recreation areas on the lake. The investor group calls the President about how water and economics both need to "trickle down "in California. The President can't talk because he has a spoon stuck sideways in his throat, trying to prove he can do anything President Bush can do. So the President calls Bush wanting to know how he does the spoon trick. Bush says "Now (Billie), you're not supposed to swallow the spoon, you just pull your neck out on each side to make it look like you did." The President says, "Georgie, you know you are supposed to brief me in advance on these things." Bush makes a self satisfied smile. The President tells Bush that Bush owes him one for tricking him and asks him to call off the EPA. Bush agrees.

As the EPA caravan of scientists leaves town, the group leader vows, "This is war. We shall return."
(Stage play - The preceding scenes are all at City Hall.)

But Trip and Trap's worst problem is that they are running out of money and have to go to work. Against his judgment, the Mayor is coaxed by his daughter into giving them a job painting lines on the city streets. Soon the two get sidetracked by their own ideas of highway engineering and the entire town becomes an unfathomable maze of lines. Parallel parking is eliminated, as are one way streets, so angle parking is in the middle of the street and cars drive on each side. All stop signs get painted over as yield signs. Traffic signals get painted over and drivers can't see the lights. Some of the citizens form a lynch committee, and trip and Trap are escorted out of town by the Sheriff.
(Stage play scene - inside and outside of City Hall.)

The two are sobered by their experience and want to get back to their ladies and the water project. With the help of the science teacher, they make a working model of their water plan with the little money they have left.

The Mayor and City Council are voting on unincorporating the town. The local military commander is present. When asked why he is there, he says it is classified information and he is representing the military's interests. The government EPA representative also sits quietly, looking sinister and obstinate. Trip and Trap show up, accompanied by jeers and threats. They apologize for their shortcomings, show them their working model, and win their approval.

But the EPA representative decides the concentrated ocean water discharge would pollute the ocean. Trip argues that, "It came from the ocean, why can't it return to the ocean?" The EPA man responds, "Even though it came from the ocean, it's concentrated, and it's a whole new issue. The President's order doesn't apply. You can't build the water supply." He looks victorious. The meeting adjourns.

Feeling defeated and shamed, Trip and Trap pack their things and walk out of town at night. A friend returning to town passes them, then talks to the Mayor. The Mayor hasn't seen his daughter so alive as when Trip was around. He likes the two, in a round about sort of way, and he begins laughing about the street painting incident. The Mayor, their lady friends, and several residents go after them, telling them that they are heroes because they tried their best and that's all anyone can ask. Trip and Trap return to town with them.
(Stage play scenes - the preceding scenes are inside and outside of City Hall.)

Part III, climax

The next day, Trip and Trap and Amy and Lisa are sitting around talking about where to move. Trap raises a question.

"Why isn't the military leaving? They must have water!" So they talk about confronting the military and getting some of their water. If the military will see them after already having two encounters with them. But they are desperate.
(Stage Play scene - City Hall.)

The military commander refuses to meet with them. So they sneak onto the base at midnight in the back of the hearse with Lisa driving. The main gate allows them through with no problem. They enter various barracks dressed as spooks and sit on bunks and tickle feet until the men sit up, frightened. Then they run.
(Stage Play setting 4,  scene - this and the following scenes are in a military Office and barracks. The barracks is partitioned from the office. Most of the stage can be sparsely appointed and dimly lit, incorporating elements of the other scenes so they don't have to be disturbed. But the characters need room to run around, be hidden, and for events to take place)

Soon the entire base is after them. But when the guards catch Trip, Trap appears behind them, distracting them. They find various uniforms and switch them frequently, letting themselves be seen wearing different uniforms or as spooks. After an hour, the entire base is in chaos and anyone who looks remotely like Trip and Trap is under lock and key. Meanwhile, Trip and Trap enter the Commander's office, leave a note for him, and exit in the hearse with Lisa driving.

The next day the Commander shows up at the Mayor's office looking worn and haggard. The base has been on alert half the night looking for spooks, and most of the base is in jail. He was in jail himself, accused of being a spook until someone could identify him. He asks angrily what Trip and Trap want. They ask about the base water. He says that is classified. Trip asks him if running around half the night chasing ghosts is also classified. He knows some reporters. The Commander reports the Army is just as concerned about water as they are. The Army's wells are only a little deeper, and they are beginning to show signs of losing their supply. They are rationing water and may have to close the base. The Army Corp. Of Engineers is going to be on the base the next day to assess the situation. The Commander tells them they just might be interested in their idea.
(Stage Play - this scene and the following scene are in City Hall.)

The Army Corp. Of Engineers representative shows up and wants to look at their plans. The Army's wells are dry and they will have to close the base if they don't find water. They can handle the EPA. They want to experiment with Trip and Trap's plan because it is less expensive and environmentally sound, and they can get emergency funding to get it done.


They aren't going to get any money for their idea, so they are once again at loose ends. Trip wants to move on to another project, a fountain of youth he has heard about from the prospectors. But Trap feels it's better to freeze people who have terminal illnesses and wants to pursue that. The ladies don't care what they do, even if it's painting streets, as long as they do it in their town. The ladies have their way.
(Stage Play - this scene is in the desert.)

Example scene:


Marching down the corridor two by two comes the business group, led by Sam, who is determined to form his sales group into a cohesive union of team players. Sneaking down the corridor behind them are Trip and Trap, who have watched their silly exercises for days. Trip and Trap join their ranks, marching after them with their fingers up their nose.

Today is our biggest step toward

becoming a team.

This is business!

This afternoon you have to

become completely honest with

each other and identify each

other's strengths and weaknesses.

So now you are going to drop

your facades and see each other

as you really are.

They march through a door into a locker room. Sam swings open the steam room door.
All right men, remove your clothes.
Sam begins opening a valve marked steam. One by one the men enter the steam room. Trip and Trap exchange mischievous glances and disappear. Steam fills the room so the men can't see each other.
OK, Mark, tell us what you don't

like about Jim.

Jim is OK. He's a real likable guy.
Well, if you had to choose

something, what would it be?

I don't want to say. He's my friend.
It's OK. Friends can take it.
Trip and trap return carrying a box. They look through the door window, seeing only steam. They give each other thumbs up. They take an inflatable rubber dingy from the box.
But he's my only friend. If I

make him angry at me, I won't

have any friends.

It's OK, Mark. I'll still be

your friend.

You trample all over my feelings,

talk about me like I was just another

object and have me run errands for you

like an errand boy. I want some respect.

You're a real jerk, Jim.

You're a wimp, Mark, and I never

liked you anyway.

Well, that's honesty.

Listen, what's that noise?

Hellllllp! It's getting me!

It's getting me!


What's got you? What is it?

What is it?

It's got me! It's pinning me

to the wall. Hellllllp! I

can't get away!

I feel it! It's coming to get

me! We can't get out! Hellllp!

Get on the floor! It's not on

the floor.

I can't! I'm pinned to the wall!
What is this thing? We're all

going to die!

You finish it: Mark gets them to work together as a team, and rescues them all.

Other distribution restrictions: None

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